Twelve year old wants to go to the USAFA

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by Alef, Jun 2, 2016.

  1. Alef

    Alef Member

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    We were walking across the Academy grounds today after attending my brother's commissioning ceremony, and my twelve year old asked me "how old do you have to be to come here?" I told her you have to be at least seventeen and a high school graduate; I could see the wheels turning in her head. She told me later she wants to go to the Academy.

    She's twelve, things can change--but if she wants this path I want to do what I can to support her. I'm an AFROTC grad but never applied to the Academy myself.

    Any suggestions for things a twelve year old can be doing to make a USAFA dream a reality?
     
  2. Padre101

    Padre101 Parent

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    At that age, she can join the Civil Air Patrol cadet program.
     
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  3. wildblueyonder

    wildblueyonder USAFA '19

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    I wanted to go since about 7th grade or so. I suppose I could easily have changed my mind during the following years, but it ended up that I never did. I think a fair number of USAFA cadets became interested at a young age, and it sounds like she could well be one of them. :)

    Some of the most important things she can do during the next several years are:

    1. Earn good grades and gain a solid understanding of math/science/etc.
    2. Start looking for and becoming involved in extracurricular activities and sports (Padre mentioned CAP--that would be a good choice for an XC)
    3. Develop a habit of exercise and physical fitness
    4. Continue to learn about the Academy and other related alternatives

    All these things are focused on developing a foundation that she can build on through high school. Once she reaches that point, she can get in touch with her ALO/admissions counselor for more specific advice.

    Hope this helps, and good luck to you and her! :D
     
  4. EOD/SEALmom

    EOD/SEALmom Member

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    Wildblueyonder gave some good advice.

    I'd also add to keep the Academy on your minds as you plan school courses each year. If your school offers it, try to take advanced math/science/really any classes during junior high (i.e. Taking Algebra during 7th or 8th grade). That will free up the schedule at the high school level, allowing either more advanced level than normal during high school or allowing room for electives, etc.

    Others mentioned CAP, and I have no knowledge about that program. Three of my kids are in the Sea Cadets, and I cannot express enough how wonderful USN Sea Cadets is - the cadets really get to experience many different aspects of the military, from Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard. So if your DD doesn't yet have an idea of what she wants to do, she might really enjoy USNSCC.

    Three of my kids are aiming for a SA, one since junior high (she was turned down by USNA this year, but still plans to commission Marine through VMI). The single most important thing I've learned as a mom is to let the kids decide at every step, from what classes to pick or sport to play...I've learned that the kids need to know how to "lead" themselves before they learn to lead others. They also need time to just be kids and not worry about their future; I learned that it was sometimes best to just back off any talk of SA for a while...and they always bring it back up themselves ;)

    I wish your DD all the best!
     
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  5. got_milk

    got_milk Member

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    If you go the CAP route, be careful which group you choose. I was stuck in a terrible squadron for a year and eventually quit. Not an advocate of CAP. I believe there are far more beneficial organizations that can get your daughter headed in the right direction.
     
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  6. Alef

    Alef Member

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    There are a couple of different CAP squadrons in our area (one to the north, one to the south) so I can look into both of them.

    What other organizations would you suggest?

    She is athletic and is interested in joining a swim or track team this year (actually, she wants to do both but we've got other stuff going on as well; we'll see what fits). This is a kid who tends to want to take every opportunity and participate in every activity, which just isn't possible.
     
  7. Eaglescoutmom2020

    Eaglescoutmom2020 Member

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    In addition to Civil Air Patrol, look into the Girl Scouts' equivalent of becoming an Eagle Scout. My son joined scouting at a freshman in high school with the goal of becoming an Eagle Scout because we knew it would give him an edge and show leadership responsibilities. They give the same amount of points for Girl Scouts who go all the way. There's an application form that you complete when you apply to the service academies and they give "points" for any number of extra curricular activities. I highly recommend going a Google search and locating the form on-line which will give you a good indication. Also, look into attending Girls State during the summer of her junior year. It's good that you're starting down this road early. Make a checklist and timeline of all the things she will need to do/accomplish along the way so that she can be sure to stand out when she applies.

    Also, another bit of good advice that we received while my DS was a freshman, was to start a binder. Have a section for report cards; awards; volunteer activities & dates; etc. It will help when it comes time to pull all the information together to put on an application.

    This kind of goes without saying, but study hard and plan on taking the SAT or ACT multiple times to get the absolute highest score.

    Be sure she is well-rounded and participating in sports and clubs and running for club or class positions of leadership.
     
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  8. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    One word of caution:

    We all want our children to be the best they can be, no matter what that is (ok, excepting criminal and possibly Packers and/or Bengals fan), but:

    Let your child be a child! Don't schedule her day and night. Let her pursue those interests which grab her, while you facilitate (not dictate). If it turns out an AF career doesn't jibe with what she's got in mind, that's great!

    In other words, open the doors for her, and let her take a peak, even enter, but don't freak out if she doesn't find this to be her cup of tea.

    Best of luck to your daughter in her future!
     
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  9. repatriot

    repatriot Member

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    +1, And I'd add: As others mentioned, CAP programs vary widely, but it may nurture a life-long love of aviation. Recommend not pushing it on her, just see if she enjoys it. If so, continue to support, for the most part CAP is a great program.
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2016
  10. Padre101

    Padre101 Parent

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  11. repatriot

    repatriot Member

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    No, sorry +1 meaning "good point!!!";)
     
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  12. Padre101

    Padre101 Parent

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    Oh ok. Then let me +1 your +1.
     
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  13. time2

    time2 Member

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    I agree, at that age interests change frequently. Instead of her meeting your expectations based on some strict plan/timeline, help her to understand the attributes that SA applicants possess such as top notch grades, ECA participation, leadership and athletics. She can then be self-motivated to excel at those things while in h.s. as part of pursuing HER dream. If it works out great, if not, then she will still have an excellent resume for whatever college she pursues.

    There is no one activity that is any magical path to an appointment. Let her pursue the things she is good at and can contribute to the success of school while still having a good time.
     
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  14. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    My advice is to encourage her to keep her options open. By that, I mean do a variety of activities well, which will set her up to choose between many routes when she has to choose a college/career. The academies tend to look at three major areas: academics, leadership, and athletics. Getting good grades in the most challenging classes her school offers is important. USAFA is an academic institution--if you can't keep up with a very heavy math/science curriculum, things will not go well. Next, look for ways to develop leadership experience--CAP has been mentioned, as well as Girl Scouts. Both of those are good options, but certainly not the only ones. USAFA wants to see commitment and leadership. Doing 10 activities as a "member" is not as good as 2-3 as a leader. Finally, athletics--being fit is an important thing to the military. Leaders who are dog tired don't lead as well! So, make sure she stays fit, and participates in some sort of formal sport.

    These things will set her up well for admissions to a service academy, but they also leave options open at most colleges. Being in a position to choose, based on a strong resume, is a good place to be!
     
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  15. FFNWP'15

    FFNWP'15 New Member

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    I've wanted to go since I was about 10 and I totally agree with the other responses. Simply put, get good grades, be involved in athletics, do some community service here and there in high school and your daughter would be on track for an appointment :) I was not involved in any sort of JROTC or CAP and still got in so its definitely not a requirement but I have heard that some people really enjoy those programs. It just wasn't something I wanted to devote time to when I already had other interests.
     
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  16. CivilAirPatrolCadet

    CivilAirPatrolCadet AFROTC Non-Tech Scholarship Recipient

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    It really does depend on the squadron. Keep in mind there are a lot of activities outside CAP, and activities in CAP that are outside the squadron level. Personally, I have had an amazing time in CAP, and will continue as long as I can.
     
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  17. Alef

    Alef Member

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    Thanks guys, I appreciate all the input. We have enough of an AF background that I've thought one or another of my kids might eventually consider the AFA, but I didn't actually expect it from this particular child.
     
  18. Alef

    Alef Member

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    I appreciate all the replies, and particularly this reminder :)

    I have several children and rather suspect that at least one will go the military route, but was kind of surprised to find this particular child leaning that way. I'll definitely give her and the rest room to figure out their own paths, I just want to be there to support whatever their dreams are.

    Of course after attending graduation all of them are saying they want to go the the AFA. We came home with a couple of cadet hats and the younger kids have been marching around in them every day :D
     
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  19. ruralakay

    ruralakay Member

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    Boy, do I agree with this. From about age 5, my son obsessed over being a pilot. At age 12, he joined CAP and has thrived in the program (currently about to promote to c/lt colonel, has been squadron leader for over a year, and hopes to have his Spaatz award before he graduates.). Also decided AFA was the path for him at 12 and began a relationship with our local congressman. He was so steadfast in this goal, we planned our course of action around this dream. We let him take the lead in this. He went to 2 glider encampments, tons of leadership encampments (including serving as staff), has been at the top of his class since 7th grade, done countless hours of community service, etc. He has really put in the effort to make this happen. Then, last summer, he went to his powered flight academy and came back and immediately announced a COMPLETE change of heart on his goals. I still don't know if it was something that happened at that flight academy (he denies it), or if he just truly lost interest in flying, but, now, all of a sudden, he wants to go into astrophysics. No less a lofty goal, mind you, but it has required us to shift our thinking and focus a bit. We were a little rattled, but we want him to be happy, so we have begun carving out a new course of action.

    Thankfully, that new goal still includes AFA or AFROTC (Plan B), and, lately, he has decided it would be prudent to go ahead and apply for USNA as well, to further "hedge his bets." He is attending Summer Seminar next week, where we feel his mind will most likely be made up for sure, one way or another, if AFA is the path he wants to stay on. Assuming he receives and accepts an appointment, it's always possible he could get there and decide on a completely DIFFERENT career path, once he starts classes! My point is that the greatest lesson we have learned through this, as parents, is to "roll with the punches" and keep encouraging our DS to aspire to be the best he can be, no matter what that may be. He is well on his way. I wish you and your children all the best in the upcoming decisions over their life choices!
     
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  20. Hoodlum15

    Hoodlum15 Member

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    I decided I wanted to go to USAFA around the same age. I'll be heading for BCT in three weeks. One easy thing she can do (if she's in middle school) is join future Falcons. Just google it. It requires no ongoing efforts on your part, it just lets the Academy know she's interested and signs her up to occasionally receive promotional mail like calendars or when to take the next step.
     
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